Monday, September 12, 2011

My latest money-saving technique is... being nice

My bike was recently stolen.  However, I didn't have time to mope or shop for a replacement because as soon as I'd mentioned it happened one of the maintenance guys in our community offered to give me one for free.  He'd recently cleared out some old bikes for the bike racks that hadn't moved in ages and I could take my pick of bike and accessories to replace the one I'd lost.

I don't think this is an offer he would have made to anyone who had lost a bike.  He had to go out of his way to let me into the storage area and waited after his usual shift for me to return his keys.  But he's really nice to me and I think it's because I always make sure to say hi and thank you.  That sounds silly, but there are many people who ignore him completely unless they need to complain, sometimes obnoxiously, or ask him to do something.  I think he treats me nicely because that's how I treat him.  Honestly, I'm nice to him out of habit, it's how I'd treat anyone because everyone deserves to be addressed politely and treated with respect, but this time it saved me big bucks.

I've found that the relationships created by simply being nice to people can be incredibly valuable.  From friends and family to neighbors or even telemarketers, politeness might be old fashioned but it works wonders.  We've shared tools, meals, and services with our friends and neighbors where others might not and I seem to have better luck with customer service reps over the phone than most people do. A few months back, by coincidence, both my SO's brother Tom and I had to call our banks to get fees refunded.  It was just before 4 on a Friday leading into a holiday weekend and Tom was ticked off about the fee letting the rep have it.  He was justified in his anger, the fee was big and a mistake, but he didn't get his fee refunded that day; he was told the would look into it and to follow up in two weeks.  When I called my bank I chit chatted with the lady on the line, said please and thank you and had my fee refunded and waived in 15 minutes.  The lady also upgraded my account at no charge.  Tom and I had different banks but I can't help but think attitude played a part.

Have you seen financial rewards through kindness or being nice to people?  Do you think old fashioned manners are disappearing?

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  1. As a customer service rep, I see very few manners displayed by callers! Even a neutral tone of voice and some basic civility goes a long way toward relieving tension in a call. That might get the caller what they need or want, and it might get it done quicker.

    My advice: PLEASE say please and thank you (we do!), and don't yell. Listen to what the agent says, and follow directions. If you're not getting the result you want, ask if a supervisor can assist you. Don't yell at them, either. They will help you if they can. If they can't, that's not their decision in most cases; it's the company policy. Write a letter/email to corporate headquarters requesting a change in the policy; don't tell the agent you're going to "sue the company" or "tell the press".

    Even if you don't get what you wanted from the call, you'll both have had a more pleasant experience. And you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that you're a decent human being.

  2. Interstingly, yes. I have never, as far as I can remember, tried to be nice for the purpose of saving money. Usually I'm either neutral or friendly. Only irritable once in a while, if I'm getting rotten service.

    If I do get something free or for less, it's usually if a female is working, and strangely when food is involved. Such as, I'll get a cup of coffee for free, I'll get a free appetizer, etc.

    This very rarely happens, though. And it happened more years ago.

  3. I am a teacher and my rapport with the janitorial staff yielded me special treatment my colleagues did not enjoy. Treating people reasonably usually yields a lot more. This works with strangers, colleagues and in my case, my students.

  4. I always make it a point to be nice to everyone regardless of job title. I don't see why you would not be nice to someone simply because of what he or she does for a living. I have noticed that when things break or there's a problem with a bill or I need computer assistance at work or my food order is wrong, my requests get attended to sooner than others because I'm nice (and sometimes, I'll get comped a free drink or whatever).

    It works in my personal life, too. My husband is, overall, nice to his co-workers and one of them, who teaches yoga at an expensive yoga studio, gifted me an entire month of classes just as a thank you to my husband.

  5. I used to get free umbrellas, because I made friends with person in charge of the psych floor at my university. I had given up buying them because, for some reason, I would go through them like crazy. One day, I was leaving with my jacket on and he asked me to come to his office. He handed me one of the extra umbrellas from the previous year and then I explained why I did not have one and he told me just to come up and get another when I broke that one. He was a very nice person and very few people treated him with the respect he deserved.

  6. Great topic! Kindness and consideration go a long way in solving problems. I love the idea of how it can also save you money!

    My kids will frequently ask me if there are jobs around the house that they can do to earn money. If they are picky or rude, they don't get the opportunity. If they are kind and polite, I will generally find a task for them to do. After reading this article, I will definitely point out to them the advantages of being nice!

  7. Good points here. I mean, it's human nature to bring back what they receive right? Maybe you can include being honest here, admitting that you can't and you won't be able to arrange your finances for the meantime. The trick here is not to be abusive, and always think that financial matters don't come only once. They exist, like forever.